A New Face on Small Business Lending.

Guest Blog: ATB LendR

By: Chett Matchett

In Alberta’s current economic state, we have all heard the message that now is the time to diversify, to support local businesses, to embrace innovation.

At ATB Financial, we have found this message to be exciting, motivating, and ultimately one of the catalysts to start reimagining what the future of banking looks like.

We have found ourselves asking questions like:What if we were more than just a bank?

What if banking was the avenue to all happiness?

How can we help small businesses in Alberta in a truly unique/different way?

What if… EVERY Albertan could lend to an Alberta business?

 

Introducing ATB LendR. A new face to small business lending.

Your face.

 

What is ATB LendR?

ATB LendR is a crowdlending platform, promoting economic diversity and growth in Alberta through peer to peer lending. Using what we’re calling a Lift Loan, ATB checks the basics, sets the terms, and commits that if you – the crowd – likes their story and is willing to lift the business half way to their loan amount, ATB Financial will match it and fund the loan. LendRs participate on the same terms as ATB – 12% interest and monthly repayments. To be a LendR you don’t have to be an ATB customer or an accredited investor, just an Albertan who understands the great potential and energy in our entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Who can be a LendR?

Alberta Residents over the age of 18 can be a LendR. Securities rules do not allow us to accept LendRs from other provinces.

Are there limits on what I can lend?

The most you can lend to any one business on any single loan is $5,000. You also can’t have more than $10,000 lent out in aggregate.

Does ATB get repaid first?

No. All repayments are split between all the LendRs, including ATB.

What kind of businesses qualify for a lift loan?

Small businesses that have been an ATB Business customer for at least 12 months can apply for a Lift Loan. We use a unique lending model to review applications, looking at things like account history and credit scores. It is closer to a business credit card application than a bank’s commercial loan review.

 Why doesn’t ATB give them a regular loan?

In some cases the businesses may qualify for a regular loan, but may want a Lift Loan. In some cases they may not qualify for a regular loan. That could be because they aren’t established enough for regular loan criteria, or the nature of their business isn’t well suited to it.

Are there any costs for LendRs to participate?

ATB LendR is free to join. There are no fees to load funds on the platform, or make a loan, and any interest you earn is yours.  During our initial launch period if you load funds and decide not to make a loan, you’ll be able to withdraw them without charge. After our initial launch period there will be a 1% charge to take funds off the platform, to cover various transaction costs.

For more information and to sign up as a Founding LendR please visit ATB LendR SignUp

 

 

 

BoostR Success Story – FREDsense

FREDsense Technologies lands coveted spot at Silicon Valley startup accelerator

A startup in Calgary is making waves—by testing waves.

FREDsense Technologies is a new Alberta-based business that engineers organisms to test water quality. The founders came up with a “bio-sensor” technology to engineer bacteria and put them in containers, much like USB sticks, which can be submerged into water to test for a wide variety of contaminants.

This technology will be useful for the oil and gas industry, as well as the agriculture industry. Its founders are all students or recent alumni of the University of Calgary.

Because this new technology has the potential to have a big impact, FREDsense was one of seven startups selected from a pool of 400 applicants from around the world to participate in an accelerator program for new businesses in Mountain View, California.

Co-founders David Lloyd, Chief Operating Officer, and Emily Hicks, CEO, are at Singularity University, which runs this program specifically for startups coming up with disruptive technology to solve big world problems.

“It’s pretty fantastic. I’m still realizing that we’re here, this is happening, right in the heart of Silicon Valley,” Lloyd said.

“We’re suffering from huge impostor syndrome. Looking around seeing the talent and huge ideas in other teams is unreal. We’re also the only Canadians here, and Emily is the only woman here.”

Lloyd and Hicks participated in ATB’s Alberta BoostR program, a rewards-based crowdfunding platform, to help raise some money for their startup. After they did this, they realized they needed to accelerate even more. That’s where the program they’re now participating in came in.

“It’s a 10 week experience, you get $100,000 for your company, and every week we’re learning rapidly how to run our business better. We’re being introduced to potential customers and investors. It’s been an awesome experience,” Lloyd said.

Alberta BoostR was important for Lloyd and Hicks because they needed a way to fund prototypes of their product. They needed to show potential customers and investors that their technology really works, and Alberta BoostR helped to provide them with some funding to do that.

“When I heard about Alberta BoostR, I thought it was an incredibly cool way we could have impact and get people involved in what we’re doing at the same time. We decided to give it a go, even though in some ways, we’re really not the ideal fit when it came to rewards-based crowd funding,” Lloyd said.

“It’s one of the big reasons we’re here today in California and having this opportunity.”

Since Alberta BoostR is a rewards-based crowdfunding initiative, Lloyd and Hicks had to come up with, well, rewards. They ended up giving out water bottles, Lloyd said, since it fit the theme of “testing what’s in your water.” They also gave out t-shirts and hoodies. Finally, they gave away experiences. First, the put on a biology art day, where kids painted pictures with bacteria that glowed in the dark. Then they hosted a “be a synthetic biologist for a day” experience.

Once they’re back in Alberta, Lloyd and Hicks plan to really get the business up and running by getting their products to market.

“And we want to do that in Alberta. We believe in the province and the people and the amazing talents we have, and that we can make an impact from there on the rest of the world,” Lloyd said.

The company’s first product, FRED (Field-Ready Electrochemical Detector), uses a genetically modified bacteria to detect multiple water-borne contaminants in two simple steps. A cartridge holding the ‘sensing’ bacteria and chemicals needed to run the test is placed in a detector with the water being tested. After one to two minutes the detector sends the results via Wi-Fi, 3G, or USB connection, to your device.

Video Source: http://singularityhub.com/2015/10/02/taking-flight-meet-the-startups-of-the-2015-inaugural-su-labs-accelerator/

Passionate pitches: BoostR Stage comes to YEG

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Excerpt: Small business owners delivered their pitches to a crowd, hoping to win the judges favour (and $1,000).

Adventure buses. Pantomime theatre. Ramen noodles. Moonshine. Wellness treatments. Under what magical roof might all these disparate ideas come together?

Under the roof of the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton, as a matter of fact, for the very first BoostR Stage YEG event, on Tuesday, September 15. It was put on by Alberta BoostR, ATB’s rewards-based crowdfunding platform.

BoostR Stage is an event where small business owners and entrepreneurs from Alberta can pitch their business plans to an expert panel of judges, as well as a captive audience of engaged community members. The judges hear short, timed pitches, ask some questions, and ultimately choose one business to “boost” with capital. A $1,000 prize goes to help the winning business expand.

But even better, audience members are equipped with voting rights too, in the form of dollars. Audience members are given credits to award their favourite pitch through albertaboostr.ca, good for that evening only.

On Tuesday night, five businesses took the stage: Gateway Wellness Center, Adventure Bus, Wyvern Players, Red Cup Distillery, and Prairie Noodle Shop. Each pitch was unique, reflecting the personality and passion of the business owners.

But the pitches did carry a common theme: they all contained ideas to make our collective community better. Whether it was through offering a cold glass of moonshine or suggesting an outing with your kids to see live, interactive theatre, all the business owners at Tuesday night’s event pitched Alberta-focused innovations.

In the end, the winner of the $1,000 boost from the judges was Red Cup Distillery, rewarded for a passionate and authentic pitch highlighting a compelling business model.

The next BoostR Stage pitch event will be in Calgary on September 30. For more information on that event, to learn more about these businesses, and to boost an Alberta business yourself, visit albertaboostr.ca.

Alberta BoostR Success Story -Remuda

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For Tony McKee, founder of the Remuda Horsemanship Program, getting the word out about the good work his program does through his networks was key to his crowdfunding campaign success.

Tony runs a camp for at-risk youth that, after funding cuts, was unable to run this year. So, he took to Alberta BoostR to crowdfund to keep the camp going and to continue changing the lives of the children who participate in the camp each year.

Tony asked the families of kids who were planning to come to the camp, or who had had great experiences at the camp in the past, to help spread the word about the camp’s purpose and its crowdfunding campaign through their personal networks. By leveraging their networks, he increased the number of people he reached with his campaign multiple times over.

As a small business, getting the word out about your crowdfunding campaign is one of the most important success factors. There is a common misconception that once the crowdfunding page is launched, people are just waiting to open your page and contribute funds.

But in reality, to get people to your campaign page, you have to really put the work in to make them aware of your business and its goals. One of the best ways to do this is to leverage your networks of family, friends and clients, plus asking those people to leverage their networks. Ask everyone you know to boost your campaign early on, and to share your campaign with their own personal and professional networks. Having the support of your friends and family right from the get-go is critical because it’ll allow you to launch your campaign with some traction in funding, which will give your campaign credibility in the minds of those who don’t know you or your business. For instance, if your friends and family help you get 20% funded within the first few days of your campaign launch, that traction will be more convincing to someone who checks out your campaign page and thinks about also supporting your business because it’s already been 20% funded in just a few days. Thus, leveraging the support of your network will enable you to reach out to those outside your network, creating a snowball effect.

Reaching out to the people who know your business isn’t just a great way to expand your network and bring more traffic to your campaign page, it’s also a great way to promote your business. Hearing personal stories from people who have benefited from the work your business does is great marketing. These stories show that when someone contributes to your crowdfunding campaign, they aren’t just getting a reward, they’re making a difference.

We’re throwing an event in Calgary – The Elevator

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Hey everyone! We’re throwing a community-building, crowdfunding pitch event in Calgary called The Elevator, and we’d love to share it with you.

From May 20 – May 27, local business owners are invited use the Alberta BoostR platform to start their own campaigns where they share their story, ask for support, and offer something of value in return.

On Wednesday, May 28, the entrepreneurs with the top 5 performing Alberta BoostR campaigns will be invited to pitch live at The Elevator for their chance to earn up to $4000 towards their campaign. This innovative and community-building event will be held at The Libertine (223, 8thAve SW), from 5pm to 8pm.

At the event all guests will receive $20 Alberta BoostR Dollars to put towards the business they like best that night (up to $2000). In addition, the business that generated the most social media buzz in the week leading up to the event will be revealed at the event and presented with an extra $2,000 towards their business goal.

Learn more about the event at TheElevatorCalgary.ca or, if you’re already sold, grab a Ticket! They’re only $10 and you get $20 BoostR dollars to give to a business that night!

Not only is it a night of big idea pitches from five local companies, the evening will also include:

  • Small business confessionals
  • Our “always wanted to be in Mad Men” Instagram photo booth
  • A libation on us
  • Oh – can’t forget networking, connecting and business card swapping
  • A $20 promotional code to put towards a business – that night!

To learn more about the event check out TheElevatorCalgary.ca

Follow @albertaboostr on Twitter and Instagram or Facebook.

The hashtag for this event is #ElevatorYYC

The Elevator – A Pitch Event is hosted by Alberta BoostR and presented by ATB Financial, Alberta Women Entrepreneurs, and The Business Link.

Hope to see you there!